Friday, October 21, 2011

Rave: My first Mac

I was working in the secretarial pool at Cadillac Fairview in the 80s working supporting a few executives. I used to smoke at my desk, drink black tea and type endless boring letters on my IBM Selectric typewriter. I became used to liquid paper, correction tape and re-dos all day long. I once typed a long formal letter, sent it to my boss for his signature. He hated how he signed the letter and had me re-do the entire bloody thing because of his sloppy penmanship! No computers, no files, not even a floppy... all hard copies. Ugh.

One day all of us girls each got a new typewriter. Ah yes, the Olivetti part typewriter, part computer wonder! It looked like a typewriter but had a small green bar/screen at the top where you could edit one sentence at a time before you committed it to paper. Character by character, line by line, you could see what you wrote, before it printed. What a technological marvel. Imagine, being able to correct an entire line before sending it to print. I was in heaven.

Still within CF, I applied for a marketing position at the Toronto Eaton Centre (a client of mine today!) and I got the use of another trusty Olivetti machine. One day, the boss said I was going to be a guinea pig for a new kind of computer they were introducing to the marketing department, an Apple Macintosh. A what? Whatever. In comes a tech guy carrying the cutest little beige computer with a periscope like screen. It was my first Apple Macintosh.

He plunked it down, plugged it in, handed me a funny looking instrument with a button on it (a mouse) and told me to watch the screen. There it was, the computer screen lit up … and ta dah! … a smiley face! On my computer, something smiled at me. How adorable. This is a sophisticated computer?

Well, you can imagine how overjoyed I was to see this little b/w screen, with folders, files and a trash can all at the touch of a mouse. So intuitive, so easy. Where has this been all my life. I had software programs like MacWrite, MacPaint, FileMaker, and a cool desktop publishing program called Ready Set Go! OMG. That coupled with my LaserWriter (a printer), I was the desktop publishing princess of the Eaton Centre. I couldn’t write for shit, but boy, did my stuff look professional.

A year later, I found myself at a PR agency in Canada, NATIONAL, working alongside my first boss and wonderful mentor, Ed Gould. He gave me a Mac SE as my desktop computer and again, found myself blissfully happy. While I had no idea what the heck PR was, I got to type, create and express myself on the best platform the world had ever seen.

A few months later, the agency landed the coveted Apple account, and because I was so passionate about the technology (and begged for several days), I got to work on the business. Not only that, but I had the privilege to travel several times to the Mecca of all trade shows, MacWorld at the Moscone Center in San Fran. It was as if the universe and stars were aligned just for me. For the five years I worked on the business I met both Sculley and Spindler, who were incredible leaders. It would have been something to have met Jobs himself.

When I left National in 1993, I asked my boss if I could keep the Macintosh Classic II he loaned me to work from home with. He said sure, it was a relic anyways and it was ready for landfill.

Last week I went hunting for that relic in the bowels of my basement. I found it. In a box, taped up, neglected, dusty complete with a dead spider on the mouse. I plunked it down, plugged it in and waited for the magic to happen. It did, my Mac lit up and smiled at me as if I never left it alone. No landfill for you…..

Thank you Steve. For that Mac, for your genius, for that smile.

The world smiles at you.


Tanya said...

Julie. I loved this. Am smiling like the wee Mac icon at you right now.

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